As protests swept through Russia in the wake of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s jailing, AP delivered winning all-formats coverage across 11 time zones, including live video.

The moment opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested upon his return to Moscow, AP’s Russia team knew the weekend’s protests would be big.

Working in sub-zero temperatures, AP teams in every format, from the Russian Far East to the big cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, delivered exceptional work capturing the scale and the significance of the protests — and the violent crackdown by police.

Excellent planning by chief photographer Alexander Zemlianichenko and senior producer Tanya Titova — coordinating with video colleagues Vicki Ferrar and Stefania Vourazeri in London — gave the AP the edge over the competition with a wide network of freelancers throughout the country capable of identifying where the largest protests would occur. And due to the wide time zone differences in Russia, having live video from the East allowed the AP to be first with live coverage hours before the protests would start in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Freelancers were key to AP’s comprehensive coverage in much of the country, including camera operator Yulia Alekseyeva in Yekaterinburg, gamely shooting live at minus 30 Celsius (minus 22 F) for a few hours as she struggled to resurrect dying batteries on her phone and camera.

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AP video journalist Mstyslav Chernov covers a mass protest in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, Jan. 23, 2021, against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. in Pushkin square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. AP sound man Sergei Fedotov stands immediately behind him.

AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko

Meanwhile, AP photographers and video journalists on the ground in Moscow produced outstanding images amid challenging conditions as police beat protesters and arrested thousands. Video colleagues Mstyslav Chernov and Kostya Manenkov, joined by freelance camera operator Kirill Zarubin, provided both nonstop live and edited coverage of the protests and at detention centers throughout the day.

Photographers Zemlianichenko (joined by his son, freelancer Alexander Jr.) and Pavel Golovkin in Moscow and Dmitri Lovetsky in St. Petersburg filed a steady stream of top photos capturing both the size and intensity of the mass demonstrations. For text, Daria Litvinova and Jim Heintz provided quick and comprehensive updates throughout the day, pulling together the nationwide protests and clashes, and providing context.

For dedicated, insightful coverage that captured the enormity of the dissent, both in scale and political significance, the team of Titova, Zemlianichenko, Chernov, Manenkov, Lovetsky, Golovkin, Litvinova, Heintz, Zarubin and Alekseyeva wins AP’s Best of the Week honors.

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